South Dakota gives MVFC seven in STATS FCS Top 25

(STATS) – A 70-point road win followed by a victory at an FBS school has helped South Dakota crack Monday’s STATS FCS Top 25 for the first time in six years.

As one of two FCS programs to beat FBS opponents during the second full week of the college football season, the Coyotes grabbed No. 23 in the national media poll – their first ranking since the 2011 season.

The addition of South Dakota (2-0), which beat Bowling Green 35-27, gives the Missouri Valley Football Conference a poll-high seven teams. That’s three more than the next-closest conferences, CAA Football, led by No. 1 James Madison, and the Southern Conference.

Four of the Valley boys – No. 2 North Dakota State, No. 4 South Dakota State, No. 20 Western Illinois and No. 21 Northern Iowa – won games in the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge Series on Saturday. Youngstown State, last year’s national runner-up and ranked sixth, shut out Robert Morris, while No. 18 Illinois State had an open week.

South Dakota’s second all-time triumph over an FBS program – the first was against Minnesota in 2010 – gave the Coyotes consecutive road wins to open a season for the first time since 1957 (they opened with a 77-7 thrashing of Drake). Senior quarterback Chris Streveler has averaged 357 yards of total offense and accounted for 10 touchdown passes and rushes.

“I’m really proud, we had guys who really played hard today and I can’t say enough about their effort,” South Dakota second-year coach Bob Nielson said after the upset of Bowling Green. “The two things we can control is we can control that we believe and we can control our effort, and that showed today.”

Up next for South Dakota is its home opener on Saturday against No. 10 North Dakota.

The top five teams in the poll did not change. James Madison (2-0), the 2016 FCS national champion, collected 148 of the 159 first-place votes (93.1 percent) and 3,964 points following a 52-10 win over East Tennessee State. Then it was North Dakota State (2-0), Sam Houston State (2-0), South Dakota State (2-0) and Jacksonville State (1-1).

After Youngstown State (1-1), Villanova (1-1) was seventh, Richmond (1-1) eighth and New Hampshire (2-0) ninth, meaning all four CAA teams in the poll found the Top 10. New Hampshire moved up three spots after its FBS win over Georgia Southern 22-12.

Tenth-ranked North Dakota (1-1), the preseason favorite in the Big Sky, was the conference’s lone winner in the Big Sky/MVFC Challenge Series this past weekend. Wofford (2-0) was No. 11, followed by Eastern Washington (0-2), The Citadel (2-0), Central Arkansas (1-1), Chattanooga (0-2), Charleston Southern (0-1), Samford (2-0), Illinois State (1-0), Liberty (2-0) and Western Illinois (2-0).

Rounding out the Top 25 were Northern Iowa (1-1), Tennessee State (2-0), South Dakota, Grambling State (1-1) and North Carolina A&T (2-0), the MEAC power which entered the rankings for the first time this season.

Lehigh and Weber State fell out of the rankings.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the STATS FCS Top 25. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

The Top 25 is released every Monday afternoon during the regular season, except for Sunday morning, Nov. 19, prior to the selection of the 24-team FCS playoff field. A final Top 25 will follow the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.